Posts from the newborn Category

A new mother is five days postpartum.  Her milk has come in,  but the baby just cannot seem to latch well.  She wants to nurse but is fussy at the breast.  She is hungry because she hasn’t had a really good feeds yet.  Mom is exhausted and frustrated.  After a few more days, everyone is overwhelmed and no one knows how to help the nursing go any better.  Mom takes baby in to the pediatrician/midwife/nurse-practitioner…

The trouble is, most care providers are only familiar with the classic tongue-tie.  Lip-ties and posterior tongue-ties are similar structural obstacles to nursing that are typically overlooked by most of us midwives, pediatricians, even lactation consultants because we simply aren’t aware of them;  We were never taught to look for them.

A Class II maxillary frenum attachment, or lip tie.

Unlike my son who nursed voraciously (and hourly), my daughter had a loose and lazy latch, and only nursed for short spurts as a newborn.  I checked under her tongue to see if she was tongue-tied, and she wasn’t.  She did eventually learn to latch well enough to get enough milk to feel satisfied and gain weight — albeit slowly.  Looking back on those first six months, I was so sleep deprived and busy trying to stay connected to my three year-old that it hadn’t occurred to me that she might have some other structural or oral-motor problem contributing to her poor latch.

(more…)

Your baby has just been born.  Would you let someone draw their blood and remove 30% of their blood volume?

I became a midwife before I birthed my own babies.  People often ask me how my practice changed after I became a mother and gave birth.  All midwives advocate for the needs of babies, but giving birth to my own baby afforded me a more direct and visceral connection to the baby’s birth experience than I had previously known (among other things!).   I am more deeply attuned to how the both mother and baby experience labor, birth and the hours after birth — physiologically and emotionally;  From their passage out of the pelvis (or abdomen) to their first moments touching, hearing and smelling each other, it is a sacred and biologically unique time.

Harmful cord clamping practices are one of the first interventions experienced by most babies born in the US.  (Sometimes they are also needlessly bulb-suctioned or removed from their mother).  Cutting the umbilical cord within seconds of the birth, also known as premature or early cord clamping, is a routine practice of hospital births attended by physicians.  It is another intervention that has become so second-nature to physicians, and has gone largely unchallenged in the delivery room.

(more…)

Since I am deep in the mother-baby cocoon these days I thought I would share my EC’ing experiences for curious mamas or papas who might like to give it a try!  The process of being attuned to your child’s elimination patterns is something mothers do everywhere although it is less common in western cultures where disposable diapers are the norm.  Infant toilet learning goes by many names, the least fortunate of which is “Elimination Communication.”  I can’t really say the phrase with a straight face, so I will refer to it here simply as ‘EC’ing.’

I started EC’ing my first born about three weeks after his birth.  One day I held him over the toilet, and he peed.  Boys can be hilarious to EC if you have a sense of humor.  Their pee can shoot unpredictably in just about any direction.  This can make night-time EC’ing trickier in the winter time if you’re not using diapers, but for us it was still worth the added effort.  My son did not poop in a diaper after he was three months old, and by eighteen months he was wearing underwear full-time and independently taking himself to the toilet. (more…)

You’ve probably heard that circumcision rates have sharply and steadily fallen in the US, and in 2009 only about a third of baby boys in the US had their penises surgically altered… And you’ve probably heard all the reasons why circumcision is not medically necessary, and why most of the world doesn’t do this to their babies…… But in case you are still on the fence about it, here are ten reasons not to:

1. Your son will thank you.

2. Your son will thank you for not removing one of his body parts without his willing consent.

3. Your son will thank you for not subjecting him to a painful and medically unnecessary surgery when he is only days old.

4. Your son will thank you for allowing him to experience his sexuality the way nature/God intended him to.

5. Your son will thank you for not having a damaged or dysfunctional penis as the result of botched circumcision.

6. Your son will thank you for having greater sexual pleasure and comfort.

7. Your son will thank you for being able to give his girlfriend greater sexual pleasure and comfort.

8. Your son will thank you for respecting him enough to allow him to make his own decisions about his body.

9. Your son will thank you for following your motherly and fatherly instincts over outdated notions about male sexuality.

10. You son will thank you for loving him in his entirety, exactly as he was born to be.

Thank you for your comments — I want to keep the door open for discussion !  I will, however, edit comments directed at individuals that  feel insensitive or inflammatory.

Are you more likely to lapse into sweet, cozy sleep resting under a warm blanket or a sheet of galvanized tin? Is it a big surprise that our sense of touch directly communicates with our body-mind of emotions and thoughts? Here in the west our allopathic medical system’s understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and experience has been limited at best, but it looks like we’re broadening our horizons.

Medical fields like psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) have recognized for a number of decades now that humans are an awesome bio-dynamic web of interacting neurons, emotions, sensations, feelings, thoughts, disease, and health. Michel Odent’s “Primal Health” perspective similarly recognizes that the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems of the body are not separate, distinct entities but rather a beautiful symphonic concert of neurochemicals, emotions, and experiences.

Science is now confirming what instinctive mothers have been doing for tens of thousands of years. (more…)

In hospital births, early cord clamping is one of the first interventions the newborn experiences. Physicians routinely cut the cord moments after birth, often before giving the baby to her mother.

I recently attended a planned hospital birth of a client who transferred out of my care shortly before her birth. We transferred her care to our small, local, natural birth-friendly hospital. A gracious family practice physician took over her care. Two of my client’s main hopes for her birth were delayed cord clamping (of at least a minute or two), and to receive her baby immediately from the hands of the doctor.  The doctor and I discussed the mother’s wishes more than once while she labored, and she was amenable to both. I had such high hopes for this baby’s entrance; We were going to have a somewhat physiological experience here!

After a few pushes baby comes out, pink and happy, and I’m watching, waiting…… still waiting for baby to be in mom’s arms. The doctor holds the baby down by the mother’s thighs, taking ample time to do unusual and unnecessary things. First, she bulbed the vigorous baby four or five times, then leisurely picked up a piece of gauze and slowly wiped the baby’s face. The energy shifted in the room from pure joy and excitement to mistrust and anger. She had previously agreed to give the baby immediately to the mother and now she was stalling. We were all very confused. What was she doing?

Meanwhile the mother was pleading desperately to have her baby: “Please, pleeeease, give me my baby.” I will never forget the sound of this mother begging to hold her baby. It caused me visceral pain. Every second of it broke my heart. I pray I will never again be in a situation where I, or anyone else, would withhold a newly born baby from her pleading mother.

After mother and baby were settled and nursing I seized a brief moment to talk to the doctor in the hallway. I asked her why she did not honor the mother’s desire to immediately hold her baby, as she had previously agreed to. She stated that she did honor the mother’s request to immediately receive her baby (“immediately is often a relative in the hospital), but that she also was attempting to honor her request for delayed cord clamping — requests that, in her mind, were mutually exclusive. She argued that she could not give the baby to the mother while the cord was intact because the baby’s blood would back flow into the placenta. In her mind, the delayed clamping needed to happen first, then the mother could have her baby. The two things could not happen simultaneously. We all know that thousands of babies are placed on their mother’s bellies every day, and probably have been since humans started having babies, but somehow the rules have changed.

A typical midwife-attended homebirth, where the cord is not prematurely cut and the baby receives her full blood volume. The parents decide when they are ready to cut the cord, with baby still nestled on mom.

I was stumped. Of all the bizarre medical model theories and logic I’ve encountered, this one was new to me. Typically physicians oppose delayed cord clamping because they believe the baby will receive too much of his or her own blood volume through the cord. This doctor was afraid that baby would not receive enough of her own blood because it would back-flow into the placenta if the baby was on the mother’s abdomen.

After debriefing with some of my peers I discovered that fears about blood draining out of the baby is not uncommon. But since the medical community largely opposes ‘delayed cord clamping,’ the question about where the baby should be while waiting to cut the cord rarely comes up in OB-attended births.

To be fair, there is some logic in the belief the blood will backflow out of the baby. If a woman gives birth and someone holds the baby up two feet above the mother’s body for any length of time, yes, common sense tells us the force of gravity will encourage blood flow downward, away from the baby. However, there are two problems with application of this logic.  First, suspending the baby above the mother should never happen. There is no valid reason to suspend a baby feet above her mother moments after birth. You may have seen this in birth scenes from the 80′s, but this is not an appropriate or even reasonable practice. Second, we now know that a complex feedback process  determines when the cord vessels close and thereby minimizing blood flow out of the baby and maximizing blood flow into the baby. It has very little to do with the position of the baby in relationship to the placenta.

Nature came up with a perfect design here. We can’t outsmart this one. Keeping the baby at the level of the mother’s abdomen is practical, normal, and biologically best. Fortunately for babies born in the hospital , some contemporary evidence-based OBs are coming around to accepting what midwives and mothers have long known: leaving the cord intact allows the baby to receive her full blood volume along with all the stem cells, red blood cells, oxygen, immune-boosting antibodies, and whatever other undiscovered life-giving properties our blood supplies.



Over the last few decades, parent’s and physician’s attitudes towards circumcision have radically changed. Parents are thoughtfully re-considering  what once was a routine, almost unquestioned procedure in the U.S. We’re now finally talking about what it means to permanently surgically alter an unconsenting baby’s body. It’s great to see this human rights issue for boys getting some attention on Oprah.com. An informative, inspiring piece for everyone to read, especially new parents who may be considering circumcising their new baby. Should We Circumcise Our Son? – Oprah.com

“The First Cut Is the Deepest—What About Circumcision?”

Dr. Kellogg believed circumcision—especially when performed without anesthetic—would create a link in the patient’s mind between sex and pain and would make sex less pleasurable and abstinence easier. The anti-circumcision group Circumcision Resource Center agrees that circumcision reduces sexual feeling. They summarize a 2007 study published in the British Journal of Urology International, saying: “Five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed at circumcision are significantly more sensitive than the most sensitive location on the circumcised penis.

In 1989, the famous pediatrician and author Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote about circumcision for Redbook magazine. “In the 1940s, I favored circumcision performed within a few days of birth,” he wrote. “My own preference, if I had the good fortune to have another son, would be to leave his little penis alone.